Flatiron Lunch: Bistro Truck Makes the Best Chicken and Lamb Platters Ever

Now that Downtown has its very own section of the site, what are we going to post on Fridays at 10am? Answer… how about a new column devoted to those lunches just south of the ML boundaries. Every week we’ll post about a lunch in Murray Hill south, Gramercy, Flatiron, and everything in between… or as we’ll call it from now on: Flatiron Lunch.

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The Bistro Truck is such a tease. When Zach posted about their opening last year, he mentioned that they might come up to Midtown eventually. Nearly a year later and we still get no love. So, after spending all winter drooling over the tweets about their specials, it was time to take matters into my own hands and hop the bus down 5th Avenue.

Except for some recent difficulties that have left them renting someone else’s truck, they have been showing up to the same spot on 5th Avenue near 17th Street pretty faithfully. That’s just bad news for Midtowners because they serve some great Moroccan specialties along with burgers, frites and regularly changing specials that I’d love to have closer to the office.

Some more on the menu and the food after the jump…

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The menu sports seven sandwiches ranging in price from the $4.75 burger to the $7 steak sandwich. For a couple dollars more, the entree platters trade in the rolls for piles of rice or couscous, a salad and a little dollop of yogurt that is surprisingly refreshing with whatever you dip in it. The specials often include fish tacos or fish and chips and an ever-changing list of soups.

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The mixed grill platter is a regular special – I’ve seen it on the chalkboard every time I’ve passed by – and it offers the most bang for your buck. It’s basically the best chicken and lamb over rice I’ve ever had. That’s a strong statement, I know, but hear me out. It’s not just chicken and lamb over rice. It’s chicken and lamb and merguez sausage and skirt steak over basmati rice with a salad.

At $10, it is a lot more than most halal carts, but with all that meat jammed in there it’s a bargain to me. It also serves as the easiest way for a newcomer to sample the meats that fill the various sandwiches. I love a spicy merguez, but it’d be a struggle to have to decide between that and the juicy skirt steak.

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Most recently, I tried the Marrakech Lamb, a platter of shreds and chunks of roasted lamb on couscous. If you eat enough street meat, after a while you almost forget what real lamb is. This is that. Underneath flavors of ginger and spices, you can actually taste lamb. Now, the hazard of that is you’ve got a mild gaminess that real lamb has, which some aren’t into, but I like just fine. My only complaint was that it cried out for harissa or some other hot sauce to liven it up a bit. I didn’t think to ask for it, but it may be available. I’ll have to check next time.

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If that’s not enough food, they have a few small ‘cigars’ for starters. Lamb, chicken or veggies are rolled up in phyllo wrappers and served like little savory ladyfingers.

The only thing that Bistro Truck doesn’t have is a place for me to sit and enjoy the food, meaning I’ve got to schlep back up to the office before my food gets cold or sit in one of the area parks, weather permitting. With the weather hopefully improving for the season, I expect to spend some quality time deciding between the skirt steak and the merguez.

The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • I love that you can get four types of grilled meat with rice in one giant platter
  • All entrees come with a salad made with real greens and tossed with a vinaigrette, You won’t eat it, but it’ll look nice.

The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • $10! For street meat? Real lamb is fine, but I’d rather have gyro and pay half the price
  • Needs some hot sauce
  • No place to sit nearby

Bistro Truck, 5th Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets (West side of the street)


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